Teaching Students About Ross Perot
When discussing influential figures in American history, it’s essential to include the story of Ross Perot. As an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and independent political candidate, Perot’s life offers valuable lessons for students about leadership, perseverance, and innovation. Educators can use his legacy as an opportunity to inspire a new generation of world-changers.
Introducing Ross Perot
Begin by ensuring that students have a solid understanding of Ross Perot’s background. Born in 1930 in Texarkana, Texas, Perot showed a distinct entrepreneurial spirit early on by delivering newspapers on horseback as a teenager. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he built his first successful company, Electronic Data Systems, into a multibillion-dollar enterprise.
Lessons in Business and Philanthropy
Perot’s business ventures teach students the importance of identifying opportunities and taking calculated risks. Encourage students to analyze how he leveraged the growing need for computer data management to create an industry that remains thriving today.
Another critical aspect of Perot’s life is his philanthropic work. He donated millions to charities and educational institutions to support various causes throughout his life. Have students research examples of Ross Perot’s philanthropy (such as his contributions to education reform or the creation of The Perot Museum) and discuss how generosity can impact society positively.
The Independent Presidential Campaigns
By examining Ross Perot’s presidential campaigns from 1992 and 1996, students can gain insight into political ideologies beyond the Republican and Democratic parties. Provide context for his platform by discussing political issues at that time: national debt concerns, focus on family values, and reforming government inefficiencies.
Encourage open discussion about why some voters gravitated towards his independent candidacy and how third-party candidates can shift national conversations.
Perseverance in the Face of Challenges
Perot’s life was not without challenges. Discuss the infamous struggles his company faced, like when EDS employees were taken hostage during the Iranian Revolution. Students will learn how Ross Perot orchestrated a rescue mission, displaying perseverance and leadership during a difficult time. These stories showcase the value of resilience, passion, and an unwavering commitment to achieving one’s goals.